LCD Screen TV

How Television Has Filtered Into Our Reality

Women and men forsaking all to find true love. Singers displaying their talents to win millions. Houseguests outplaying and outwitting each other to win a title and cold hard cash. Turn on the television and you’re sure to get a glimpse of someone else’s reality. Every channel seems to have its own version of reality TV.

LCD Screen TV
LCD Screen TV

The craze started in the early 2000’s, and since that time, reality TV has exploded until it took the top spot as the most popular genre on television. Nielsen ratings listed shows like Friends, E.R., and Frasier as the most popular shows in 1999. Years later, American Idol and The Voice – both reality shows- claimed the top spots. Although the shows varied over the years, the genre remained the same. Reality shows have dominated as the most watched shows since 2012.

More and more people are getting their direct TV deals from sites like to keep up with the never-ending stream of reality shows. But while the popularity of reality television has increased by leaps and bounds, psychologists are still uncertain about its effect on viewers.

Cultivation Theory – Is It Applicable?

Years ago, psychologist George Gerbner and his accomplice, Larry Gross, developed the cultivation theory during a study at the University of Pennsylvania. According to their theory, television can shape a viewer’s concept of the world we live in. The influence of television increases with the length of time viewers tune in.

This simply means that the viewer interprets his relationships and community in much the same way it’s presented on television. For example, if a senior person spends a lot of time flicking from one news-channel to the next, that person may be convinced that the world is a violent and dangerous place. It’s easy to accept this as a natural conclusion if you spend hours watching reports of wars, theft, shooting, and terrorism.

Psychologists have so far been unable to determine if and how the cultivation theory could be applied to reality television. For instance, if you watched a lot of talent shows like American Idol, would you believe that you could sing your way to a million dollars?

Promoting Voyeurism

The hypothesis that reality TV promotes voyeurism could have some merit. Nobody wants to live in a society filled with Peeping Toms. But are we cultivating a society of behaviors that we don’t want? Fortunately, the hypothesis has no basis because voyeurism is the practice of obtaining sexual gratification by looking at others secretly. The key term here is secretly. And since reality stars are putting it all out there for everyone to see, it certainly cannot be termed voyeurism.

Reduced Intelligence?

Some critics assert that most reality shows pander to feebleminded viewers and, therefore, reduce the intelligence of the rest of the viewing population. Truthfully, reality shows do not pose a threat to your brain cells or intelligence. Examine your motives for watching reality shows, and you’ll realize just how easy it is to develop a superiority complex after watching the antics that take place on reality TV.

In the past, the focus of television shows was to inform, educate, and enlighten. Today, your family television may be the vehicle for entertainment. It gives families the opportunity to break from the norm. Based on the ratings, it seems like viewers would rather stick to reality – the producers’ version of it.

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